Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
Here’s what we saw during today’s Eagles practice session.
12:06 – Before we get started, a couple housekeeping notes from yesterday. A couple people wondered why I always take videos of the same drills. The Eagles have rules that only a certain portion of practice can be taped. In addition, we are only allowed to stand on one side of the field. Considering I am shooting with the iPhone, I have no chance of recording the defensive linemen on the opposite side of the field.
But as always, I’m open to suggestions and feedback going forward on what you’d like to see.
Today we get started with the running backs who are running routes with the quarterbacks:
And now the running backs using those blue belts we’ve discussed previously:
You may notice LeSean McCoy is wearing pants even though there is a heat advisory today. My guess is he realizes Intern Josh is a trend-setter and is following his lead.
12:09 – For the first time, I notice there’s a door underneath the bleachers that leads to a room. What’s in there? Maybe it just houses equipment, water coolers, etc. Or perhaps it’s a secret office where Chip Kelly goes when he gets tired of people annoying him. Air condition, a futon, a flat-screen, who knows? Maybe even a pinball machine or an old NBA Jam arcade game. We’ll try to explore this mystery further during training camp.
12:13 – QBs throw the “smoke” to wide receivers. Explained by Chris Brown:
This is a one-step hitch by the receiver where he simply turns his numbers back to the quarterback. For everyone else, the play is a run, but if the defense gives that receiver an excessive cushion — and the flat defender is located inside the box looking for the run — the quarterback simply throws it to wide receiver.
It’s worth noting that the quarterbacks are taking snaps under center during this drill.
Meanwhile, a couple offensive linemen hustle to and from the port-a-potty during practice. It’s an aqua structure tucked in the corner of the practice fields. But for the first time today, I notice that this is not your average port-a-potty; it has added depth. It’s basically like two normal port-a-potties put together. Perhaps to add some comfort for the massive men who are going to be using it?
We now have our second angle that needs exploring in the coming months. Someone get Don Smolenski on the phone.
12:28 – The mysterious voice over the loud-speaker announces it’s time for the “formations” period. This is when the offense motions, runs routes, etc. and the defense covers, but no pass is thrown.
On one play, Earl Wolff and Brandon Boykin collide. Wolff goes to the ground, but gets back up. I’m guessing Kelly will keep that route combination in the arsenal.
12:33 – Special teams time. Boykin can make a case for being one of the best gunners in the league. But Kelly’s comment today about Nolan Carroll II was interesting.
“He’s an outstanding special teams player, been one of the top gunners in the league,” Kelly said. “And obviously improvement in special teams was a big thing for us.”
Between those two and Donnie Jones, the Eagles’ punt coverage team should be in good shape.
12:43 – In case you’re wondering, the Eagles are still using the fly-swatters to simulate defensive linemen at practice. Today, for the first time, a QB hits one: It’s Nick Foles. This is your meaningless practice note of the day. Foles had just two passes batted at the line of scrimmage all last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Later during the team drill, Jordan Matthews streaks down the middle of the field and makes a nice catch on a deep ball from Foles in between Connor Barwin and Nate Allen.
Matt Barkley, meanwhile, is intercepted by Curtis Marsh on a deep out.
I thought this Tweet from Adam Caplan was interesting:
It’s very early in the process and lots of practices left, but I don’t see much of a difference between Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne.
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) June 17, 2014
Can’t say I really disagree.
12:52 – One thing I’ve noticed during these practices: No fights or anything even close to a scuffle (during the sessions open to the media, at least).
1:02 – During the special-teams portion of practice, I see a guy taking a knee on the sideline. He could be a visiting coach or a guest of someone in the organization. But this scene would not have played out when Andy Reid was the head coach. Those not associated with the team were prohibited from sitting, taking a knee or leaning against a wall (media included). You also were not allowed to drink anything (coffee, water, etc.) while watching practice.
Kelly doesn’t seem to care what anyone not wearing an Eagles jersey is doing. Different philosophies for different coaches.
1:12 – It’s 7-on-7 time in the red zone. Boykin makes his presence felt, breaking up a Foles pass on first down. Then on third down, he forces an incompletion on a crosser to Jeremy Maclin, and the defense wins the drill.
When the second team gets up, inside linebacker Jason Phillips breaks up a Mark Sanchez pass. But Sanchez bounces back with a completion on a crosser to Matthews for a touchdown.
Barkley dumps it off to Chris Polk a couple times and then fires incomplete to B.J. Cunningham. On his final throw of the series, he finds Josh Huff, who comes down with a great catch in between defenders on an out-breaking route for the touchdown.
With the ones back up, Foles finds Brad Smith on a crossing route for a score. Sanchez, meanwhile, completes three straight to Matthews (his favorite target all spring), including a touchdown.
1:24 – Situational football. During 11-on-11s, the offense starts out on second down. Foles throws a jump-ball to Smith, but Boykin breaks it up. He had a very active practice. Marsh, meanwhile, breaks up a Barkley pass intended for Quron Pratt.
When the ones get back up, Foles looks deep for Maclin on the go-route down the right sideline. It’s a beautiful throw, but Maclin can’t hang on. Tough to see from my angle whether a defender got a hand on it.
Barkley makes perhaps his best throw of the spring, fitting the ball into a tight window on an in-breaking route to Cunningham. He had to squeeze it in between two defenders, and did.
The ones get another shot, and Malcolm Jenkins breaks up a Foles pass on a crossing route intended for Damaris Johnson.
1:39 – Foles has been looking at Brad Smith a lot today. He finds him here on a deep crosser. I still expect Matthews to take over that first-team slot job, but Smith has a good shot of making the team.
Ifeanyi Momah can’t hang on to a high pass from Sanchez.
1:45 – Something’s cooking in the NovaCare Complex. Up in the bleachers, the smell of garlic takes over. I suddenly remember all I’ve got to eat is a Mojo bar. Don’t get me wrong. Those are delicious. But I need a little more substance.
1:47 – That’s a wrap. One more practice session on Wednesday, and then the players get to do whatever they want until the start of training camp.